The clock is ticking
Dear Ate Anna,
My husband and I have been married for seven years. During these years we have been very busy with our work and did not want to have children. Now, our careers and financial situation are more established. We feel that we are ready to become parents. But, I am now in my late thirties and I realize that my biological clock is ticking. Ate Anna, what are my chances of getting pregnant? How can I increase the odds of getting pregnant quickly?
Many women nowadays are waiting longer to have children because of career or personal choices. However, it is true that age is a factor that makes it more difficult to conceive as a woman gets older.
The peak of a woman’s fertility is in her early 20’s. It starts to decline in her late 20s. By age 35, a woman’s fertility is reduced by nearly half. It is estimated that a healthy couple that is under the age of 35 has a 25% chance of getting pregnant each month. For the woman who is 35 or over, particularly after age 40, the likelihood of getting pregnant drops to less than 10% each month.
Beatrice, every woman is unique. Some women seem to get pregnant easily. For others, it takes plenty of patience and some luck. Here are some “baby making” pointers, which might help you increase your chances of conceiving.
Know your cycle and signs of fertility
The more you are familiar with your menstrual cycle, the easier it will be for you to pinpoint your fertile days – the days when you are ovulating. You can use a calendar to keep track of the day your period starts each month and the day it ends. A woman usually ovulates 14 days before her next period. Also, watch for changes in the cervical mucus. Just before ovulation, you may notice an increase in clear, slippery vaginal secretions that look like raw egg white. You can also try the ovulation predictor kit, which you can buy at any pharmacy. It detects the increase in hormones in your urine before ovulation. You need to follow the instructions in the package to get the best result. For more information about charting your fertility talk to your doctor.
Plan intercourse around the days of ovulation
Having sex during the days (3-5 days) leading up to ovulation and the 12 hours following ovulation may increase the chance of conception. After each intercourse, the concentration of sperm will drop slightly. Some experts recommend having sex “every other day” to maximize the number of sperm available to fertilize an egg.
Use the “favourable” position
According to some fertility experts the missionary position (man on top) allows the deepest penetration and can deposit sperm closer to the cervix. As well, it is suggested to stay in bed after sex in a horizontal position for at least 5 minutes to encourage the sperm to swim upward to meet the ovum.
Create a friendly environment for sperm
Avoid the use of vaginal sprays and scented vaginal products, which can kill sperm. Also, do not use artificial lubricants such as KY jelly or Astroglide. Artificial lubricants can inhibit the movement of the sperm and prevent the sperm from reaching the cervix to meet the egg.
Relax and enjoy each other
If you have sex just for the sake of “baby making”, both you and your partner might become stressed, tense, and overly focused on the mechanics of sex. Unfortunately, stress can interrupt the normal ovulation cycle in women; stress can also cause a man’s sperm count to drop. Relax and enjoy the love and romance. Take time just for pleasuring each other. When a woman’s body is ready for penetration, she will produce a natural lubricant (wetness) to help the movement of the sperm. Studies also show that when a woman has an orgasm during sex, her contractions may help carry the sperm into the cervix.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Eat healthy food, limit your intake of caffeine, and avoid alcohol and smoking. Tobacco changes the cervical mucus, which may keep sperm from reaching the egg. Smoking can also increase the risk of miscarriage. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight; being overweight or significantly underweight can interrupt a woman’s normal ovulation.
Beatrice, since you are planning to get pregnant, Ate Anna suggests you to make an appointment with your doctor for pre-conception planning. Your doctor can check your overall health and provide information that may improve your chances for a healthy pregnancy.
For more information, visit: www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-to-get-pregnant
Ate Anna welcomes your question and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, 2nd floor, 555 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB.R3C OW4 or email:email@example.com